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Boils

Boils and carbuncles are painful lumps on the skin that are usually caused by a bacterial infection.

The main symptom of a boil is a painful, pus-filled lump on your skin. A carbuncle is a dome-shaped cluster of boils.

Boils often get better on their own. Holding a warm face cloth on it can help it heal. If it does not heal, a GP may drain it or give you antibiotics.

Boils and carbuncles are caused by bacteria infecting a hair follicle. They can spread to another part of your body or to another person.

Read more on the NHS website.

The main symptom of a boil is a painful, pus-filled lump on your skin. A carbuncle is a dome-shaped cluster of boils.

Check if you have a boil

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A boil often starts as an itchy or tender spot.

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Boils can sometimes leak pus.

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Boils can appear anywhere on your body.

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When lots of boils form together it's called a carbuncle.

Read more on the NHS website.

Boils often get better on their own. Holding a warm face cloth on it can help it heal. If it does not heal, a GP may drain it or give you antibiotics.

Self-care

There are things you can do to treat boils yourself and stop them coming back.


Do

  • soak a flannel in warm water and hold it against the boil for 10 minutes 4 times a day

  • clean the area around the boil with antibacterial soap if pus comes out

  • cover the area with a dressing or gauze until it heals

  • bathe or shower every day and wash your hands regularly

  • take paracetamol or ibuprofen to ease the pain

  • wash your towels and bedding at least once a week at a high temperature

  • try to lose weight if you are very overweight and have boils between folds of your skin


Don't

  • do not pick, squeeze or pierce a boil

  • do not share your towel with other people

  • do not go to a swimming pool or gym until the boil has gone –⁠ you could pass the infection on to others

Medical treatments

A GP can check if you need treatment.

You may need:

  • a small procedure to drain the boil to get rid of the pus
  • antibiotics

Read more on the NHS website.

Boils and carbuncles are caused by bacteria infecting a hair follicle. They can spread to another part of your body or to another person.

Read more on the NHS website.